Andrew Flanagan

The country-pop record company Big Machine Label Group, one of the most successful independent labels in the country — and the longtime label home of megastar Taylor Swift — has been sold. It was purchased by Ithaca Holdings, an umbrella company owned by Scooter Braun, the manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, among others. According to anonymous sources quoted by The Wall Street Journal, the deal is valued at more than $300 million.

After 18 years, Apple is killing iTunes — well, sort of. The media management software for most Mac users (and many Windows users) is being broken into separate pieces for separate uses: Music, podcasts and television will soon have their own apps on the new Catalina Mac operating system.

Apple announced the move on Monday along with new hardware, including a new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, and entertainment and lifestyle features.

Roger Charlery, best known as Ranking Roger, singer of the widely influential U.K. group The Beat — known as The English Beat in the U.S. — died Tuesday afternoon, at 56. The singer was diagnosed with brain tumors and lung cancer last year. His death was announced on the website of The Beat, and confirmed to NPR by the group's manager, Tarquin Gotch.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

Ryan Adams, a prolific singer-songwriter and producer who first rose to prominence in the early 2000s, has been accused by seven women of using his professional influence to lure them into sexual relationships, including one when the woman was a minor. The women's stories were first reported by the New York Times in an article published Wednesday evening; each claims that Adams, as a well-known musician, would suggest artistic collaborations as a way to pursue or preserve the relationships.

Updated 4:31 p.m. ET: An initial statement by 21 Savage's legal team mischaracterized the rapper as having been released from ICE detention. His representatives clarified to NPR that he was granted bond ahead of release.

On Sunday night, the 61st Grammy Awards telecast did its best to balance several requirements — making amends to an entire gender, widening its palette of winners and honorees, and doing its best to award those who are affecting the mainstream now, not five years ago. Within the narrow lens of prime-time awards shows, it seemed to make some progress on each count, without drifting too far from its comfort zone.

Pete Shelley, the Manchester-born co-founder, singer and guitarist of the influential British punk band Buzzcocks, died Thursday in Tallinn, Estonia, at the age of 63.

The news was confirmed, "with great sadness," by the band's publicist. A cause of death was not provided.

A preview screening and discussion of the upcoming Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly — in which accusers "and people from R. Kelly's inner circle," according to a description of the project, make new allegations against the singer — was evacuated on Tuesday evening, after multiple anonymous threats were called in to NeueHouse, the Manhattan venue hosting the event.

In the afterword to Absolutely on Music, a book of conversations between novelist Haruki Murakami and the conductor Seiji Ozawa — who has won practically every major award there is for his work — Ozawa observed of the writer: "I have lots of friends who love music, but Haruki takes it way beyond the bounds of sanity."

Malcolm James McCormick, the chart-topping rapper known as Mac Miller, had fentanyl, cocaine and ethanol in his system at the time of death on Sept. 7, according to Los Angeles County's Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.

"Dear Mr. Trump: We write you on behalf of our client, Pharrell Williams, composer and performer of the hit song 'Happy.' On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged 'nationalist,' you played his song 'Happy' to a crowd at a political event in Indiana.

"Society, have mercy on me / I hope you're not angry if I disagree," go the closing lines of "Society" — a three-chord folk song written by Jerry Hannan. Last week, amidst a contentious midterm election season, two aspiring politicians in Vermont performed the song as an elegant aisle-crossing and a rare cross-party collaboration.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its 2019 nominees on Tuesday, and in what has become an annual tradition, the list came with the Hall's usual heap of opacity and a dash of acrimony.

One nominee has already been inducted, two are receiving their fifth nominations, and one previously said it would decline the honor before changing its, ahem, tune on Tuesday morning.

Geoff Emerick, an audio engineer best known for his work with The Beatles, died Tuesday at his home near Laurel Canyon, Calif., due to complications related to his pacemaker. Emerick's manager, William Zabaleta, confirmed his death to NPR. He was 72.

Emerick had been in the hospital two weeks prior after experiencing trouble walking, but was ruled to have been dehydrated.

Earlier this month, British pianist James Rhodes received a notification from Facebook. A short video he had recorded and uploaded of himself playing a passage of Bach's Partita No. 1 had been flagged by Facebook's copyright identification system as belonging to Sony Music, resulting in 47 of the video's 71 seconds being muted.

"Stop being a**holes," Rhodes tweeted in response.

Satellite radio giant SiriusXM is buying the Oakland, Calif.-based digital radio company Pandora in an all-stock deal valued at $3.5 billion, the companies announced Monday. The deal is expected to close in early 2019.

The merger would create "the world's largest audio entertainment company," SiriusXM CEO James Meyer said in a conference call. The deal would still need to be reviewed by antitrust regulators and shareholders, he added.

Pyotr Verzilov, a prominent member of the Russian art and activist collective Pussy Riot, is suspected to have been poisoned in Moscow on Tuesday, according to the group and local media.

Two days ago, on Monday, police in Uganda fired upon protesters who were demonstrating against the detention of Robert Kyagulanyi — a lawmaker better known as the musician Bobi Wine — and others.

Vivendi, a French media conglomerate that is the parent company of the world's largest record label, Universal Music Group, announced during its half-year financial review that it plans to sell up to half of the share capital of the label group. UMG is the parent company is several noteworthy labels, including Capitol Music Group (and its landmark Los Angeles tower), classical label Deutsche Grammophon and the pop powerhouse Republic Records.

"Today is the day you've been waiting for," R. Kelly claims in an Instagram post Monday morning in which he directs his followers to listen to a new, 19-minute song titled "I Admit," in which the singer obliquely or directly addresses allegations levied against him over the past year.

Richard Swift, a highly regarded producer and solo artist, died early Tuesday morning in Washington state. His death was confirmed by a manager, Adam Katz, but no cause of death was given. He was 41 years old.

A crowdfunding campaign was created last month on Swift's behalf to help pay for treatment of a "life-threatening condition," the details of which were not shared.

Ed Sheeran's syrupy, Grammy-winning single "Thinking Out Loud" is now at the center of two lawsuits.

The ginger troubadour was first sued over the hit song last year by the heirs of Edward Townsend, Jr., a co-writer of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," which they claim "Thinking Out Loud" cribs from enough to warrant a lawsuit.

A suspect in the murder of 20-year-old Jahseh Onfroy, better known as the controversial and chart-topping rapper XXXTentacion (pronounced "ex-ex-ex-ten-tah-see-ohn"), has been arrested, the Broward Sheriff's Office announced this morning. The police say that Dedrick Williams, 22 years old, was arrested for the the murder of Onfroy, who was shot outside of a high-end motor sports dealership in Deerfield Beach, Fla. on June 18.

A title card is the first thing you see in the video for "They Ain't 100," a song by the British rapper Fredo — which reads: Disclaimer: The content in this video is an expression of art and should not be taken literally. K-Trap's "David Blaine" opens with a similar prologue: All characters in this visual are entirely fictional.

Reggie Lucas, who entered his 20s as a guitarist in Miles Davis' touring band and would later help shape the multi-platinum debut of Madonna, died in the early hours of May 19 at the age of 65. The cause was advanced heart failure, his daughter, Lisa Lucas, confirmed to NPR.

Last week, Spotify announced it was implementing a new policy in which it would stop promoting "hate content" and artists who engage in "hateful conduct" within its very powerful playlists and through its equally powerful suggestion algorithm. In the week since, the move has been greeted with celebration, derision and skepticism.

Updated 5:30 p.m. ET, May 10 with a statement from R. Kelly's management team.

Updated at 2:56 p.m. ET

Avicii, the Swedish producer who was one of the world's most successful DJs, was found dead today in Muscat, Oman, his publicist confirmed to NPR Music. He was 28. No cause of death was given.

Born Tim Bergling, Avicii rose to worldwide fame quickly beginning in 2011 with the release of "Levels" and earning a Grammy nomination just one year later for his David Guetta collaboration "Sunshine."

"You're still walking around the block," observes Hope Sandoval on Mazzy Star's newest, to which we all — despite the promising green sprigs of spring making their way out of the branches — sigh and think, "Yeah."

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